8 Best Things To Do After A Workout

Whether you want to burn fat or build muscle, your workout is just one piece of the puzzle. There are certain things you have to do after a workout to maximise recovery and speed up your progress. This can vary from the foods you eat and supplements you take to manipulating your body temperature to boost strength and recovery – all of which I will be going through with you today.

The first thing you should do right after any workout is Contrast Therapy. Exposing your body to a hot temperature for a period of time then immediately exposing it to an extremely cold temperature several times can lead to greater improvements in the areas of muscle soreness and post recovery strength levels. Scientific studies have compared contrast therapy to cold water immersion, warm water immersion, compression, active recovery and stretching. Contrast therapy can also help muscle inflammation, improve mobility and improve range of motion. Something as simple as swapping between a hot and cold shower can prove more effective than any other recovery method.

The next thing you’ll want to do after a workout is drink some Tart Cherry Juice instead of your usual sports drink as it is specifically great at reducing post workout muscle soreness. Studies show that consuming tart cherry reduces muscle protein breakdown and muscle soreness by speeding up the rate of recovery. A study aimed to find out if tart cherry consumption before and after eccentric exercise would have a protective effect on muscle damage symptoms. They did this by either having students drink 12 ounces of a tart cherry juice blend or a placebo 2x per day. Scientists found that the group taking the placebo still had a strength loss of about 30% even 24 hours after they finished the eccentric exercise. On the other hand, the group taking the tart cherry juice only experienced a 12% strength loss after 24 hours. This is due to special Flavonoids and Anthocyanins found in tart cherries which have antioxidant effects on the body.

The next thing I highly recommend to reduce muscle soreness is Active Recovery. While most might not feel like doing anything after, it’s extremely beneficial to stay active after your workout to help recover from your gym session faster. One study on cyclists found that active recovery reduced lactic acid buildup in the muscles, helping the cyclists recover from their workouts faster. Active recovery can also increase your anaerobic lactate threshold – which is the amount of intense physical activity they could do without a rise in blood lactate levels. Overall, low intensity workouts such as a slow jog after an intense one can help benefit recovery and performance. 

Another way to improve muscle recovery after a workout would be Foam Rolling. Studies show that athletes who foam rolled their hamstrings after doing multiple sets and reps of deadlifts experience significantly less muscle soreness during the following days compared to the athletes who didn’t foam roll at all. The stimulation of blood flow to the targeted area is believed to help deliver nutrients to the muscle tissue.

Next is the consumption of Creatine. In order to help boost muscle growth, creatine should definitely be taken. Plenty of studies show that creatine is excellent at improving strength, power, and muscle growth. However what many don’t know is that creatine also reduces exercise induced damage and soreness as shown by studies taken by the EJAP. Creatine is more effective for improving body composition and athletic performance when taken after exercise instead of before. A study shows that creatine supplementation immediately after resistance training was better at increasing muscle mass when compared to when taken immediately before resistance training. Only around 5g of creatine monohydrate is required per day to see the benefits.

Following a workout you must ensure that you get some form of Protein in as protein is the most important macronutrient to consume after exercise. Protein is essential for producing a positive protein turnover rate – a state where more proteins get built up in a muscle than the amount that gets broken down, when this happens the muscle grows in size. According to a 2016 paper, only 20g of a high quality protein source like whey is enough to produce a significant protein synthesis response after a workout.

Along with creatine and protein you’d also want to make sure that you Hydrate after a workout. Replenishing the water you lost through sweat is not only essential for your health but it’s also crucial to see results. Dehydration prevents muscle growth by lowering muscle protein synthesis rates as well as raising muscle protein breakdown rates. Your muscles are made up of about 79% water so it’s clear that dehydration would decrease muscle growth. Studies show that just a 5% dehydration rate would significantly reduce testosterone production during weight training while increasing Cortisol and Norepinephrine. This is bad as testosterone is involved in muscle protein synthesis while Cortisol and Norepinephrine act catabolic – meaning they tend to increase muscle protein breakdown.

Finally, this is more or less common sense but you must definitely Shower and change your clothes after a workout. Continuing to wear your gym clothes can cause fungal and bacterial infections as well as cause acne. The production of sebum can clog your dead skin cells and hair follicles – therefore creating the perfect environment for the growth of acne.

This concludes the 8 things you should do after a workout to maximise your results and ensure you feel your best after a hard day of work. 

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